baking, Chanukah, Israel, parenting, sufganiyot

Parenting Lessons Learned While the Doughnuts Fry

I am the world’s worst baker. And I’d say I’ve come to terms with my terrible baking, but you have to care about the activity at hand and your own failure in order to come to terms with things. 

And I don’t care. 

I’ve always been a bad baker, and I know that I’ll always be one.

But that doesn’t mean that, at times, I don’t wish that I could whip up an awesome soufflé for that dinner party; or that I don’t want to make the amazing hamentashen (Purim cookies) that I see my friends concocting. So, as Chanukah approached and one of my friends posted a recipe for sufganiyot (Chanukah jelly doughnuts), I decided that I would give them a try.

The first night, they were fluff-less mounds of oily dough. Now, they were quite delicious fluff-less mounds of oily dough, but nonetheless, they were not sufganiyot.
Eating the fluff-less mounds of dough…
I went back and forth with Susan, the recipe-giver and friend, over IM and eventually Skype, from Australia all the way to Israel. She kept offering me tips, encouragement and suggestions. She finally realized with whom she was working when she said, “Did you make the oil too hot?”

And I replied, “Huh? Oil can be too hot?”

I could hear her sigh across the ocean.

The second night, after much coaching, I took a deep breath and decided to try again. I could do this. I could be one of the Betty Crocker moms who pulls fancy things out of the oven – who feeds her kids fattening “I love you because I baked for you” items. And I followed the recipe point for point. The sufganiyot were actually quite delicious. It was a Chanukah miracle! Susan gave me a high five icon on Facebook. I posted pictures and the crowd went wild.

Go wild, crowd!
The next day, I was thinking about my self-deprecation and wondering if it’s bad parenting. Is it bad form to make fun of myself? To laugh about what a bad baker I am? (We also laugh in the house about other things I don’t do or can’t do, such as ironing, keeping the laundry sorted properly, etc.) And I came to a conclusion that I found reassuring.

None of us are perfect. And yet many children think that their parents are invincible, unbeatable.  While it’s great for kids to look up to their parents, it’s also great for them to learn about imperfection and about having a sense of humor.

And when I make fun of my sufganiyot making, and my kids roll their eyes and say “Here she goes again!” they are seeing that I’m not invincible. I’m just an entirely human woman trying to do well by her kids and struggling through everyday activities. In addition, I’m a mom who knows how to add humor into her imperfections.

Most importantly, perhaps, I’m the mom facing her insecurities and inabilities head on; I’m the one trying to offer up great sufganiyot to the kids, even when everyone knows that I’m probably going to fail.

They will see me in the kitchen again soon, for Purim, with flour on my face and sugar all over the floor as I consult with Susan in Australia and try to turn out a Hamentashen worth eating.

And I’ll be smiling and laughing at myself all the way to the oven, with my kids cheering me on. 

Failure is human. 

Imperfections are natural. 

Humor is precious. 

And learning to scale obstacles despite these challenges? A priceless lesson for myself, and my kids.

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